If you’re looking for ways to eat better and to shift toward your health goals, the Mediterranean diet may be for you. It’s not only a delicious and satisfying way to eat—Mediterranean-style foods and recipes also offer a variety of nutritional benefits.
Let’s walk through the particulars of this eating pattern and the science behind its success. Learn how to give your menu a Mediterranean makeover just in time for Thanksgiving, when it’s easy to overindulge. Explore an abundance of new dishes to add to your repertoire.
What is the Mediterranean diet? This style of eating builds upon the traditional dietary habits of people living in the Mediterranean region. Foods may include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and high-quality fats such as olive oil. Limited sweets, low to moderate dairy, and low red meat intake are also characteristics of this eating pattern.1
What are its benefits? A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among other health benefits.2 The American Diabetes Association recognizes the Mediterranean-style eating pattern as improving glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.1
How can I make my meals more Mediterranean? Start with small changes in your eating patterns during the holiday season, or any time of year. There are so many simple ways to shift your habits in a positive direction.
Boost the Plants
Eat more veggies. Plant-based recipes are trendy and easy to prepare. Try grain bowls, vegetable-based soups, and salads with your favorite ingredients. Our Mediterranean Cauliflower-Mushroom Soup is a go-to!
Go Light on Meat
If you enjoy meat, change the way you think about it as part of your meal. Go with smaller amounts, such as small strips of sirloin in a salad or a few pieces of chicken to garnish your pasta dish.
Rather than more meat, add plant-based proteins such as beans, legumes, and nuts to your plate. They taste great, fill you up, and include fiber. It’s all about choosing quality proteins.
Step Up the Seafood
Be sure to eat seafood twice a week, as recommended in the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Salmon, trout, oysters, crab, mussels, catfish, clams, and flounder are excellent choices.3
Enjoy our Saffron Fish Stew, a flavorful, fall-inspired dish that’s ideal with snapper, mahi-mahi, or tilapia as the main ingredient.
Our wonderful Mediterranean Santorini-Style Fish with Tzatziki Farro is another winner for your family.
Bring On the Fiber
As mentioned above, fiber provides a feeling of fullness. By helping you eat less to be satisfied, it may assist with weight loss or maintenance—which is recommended for those with type 2 diabetes.4
Remember the Good Fats
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats. See some easy ways to make the swap.
Flavor with Herbs and Spices
Each country in the Mediterranean region has its own distinctive flavors. Whether you’re cooking with fresh or dried herbs and spices, they can help you create flavorful meals using less salt and fat. Here’s some inspiration.
Mediterranean Makeover Meals
Substitute your traditional fare with nutritious, great-tasting Mediterranean dishes.
Start with a breakfast remodel. Switch the scrambled eggs and sausage for a Sprouted Bread-Squash Strata or Southwest Breakfast Bowl.
Transform your lunch and dinner:
- Go from the traditional turkey sandwich to a Lentil Burger with Cool Avocado Salsa.
- Replace steak and potatoes with Beef and Peach Skewers with Persian Farro Salad.
- Modify spaghetti and meatballs into Lentil Bolognese over Zoodles.
Refashion appetizers! Instead of the usual cheese and crackers, bring Garlic Baba Ghanoush, Roasted Pepper-Zucchini Bruschetta, or Vegetable Strudel to the party or holiday gathering.
Diabetes and the Mediterranean Diet
While there’s not a one-size-fits-all eating pattern for diabetics, the Mediterranean diet has shown promise in terms of helping to manage type 2 diabetes as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. For certain people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, this eating pattern has shown positive results in helping to prevent the disease.5 As you consider changing your diet, be sure to consult with your physician about your particular needs.
For the Love of You
Choosing how you eat is uniquely personal. It’s about your needs, your preferences, and your goals. As your wellness ally, Publix is in your corner with fresh ideas, recipes, and wellness icons that make it easier to shift toward wiser food choices. It’s all about you, at your very best.
1 Boucher, Jackie L. Mediterranean Eating Pattern. Diabetes Spectrum 30, no. 2 (May 2017): 72–76.
2 Franquesa, Marcella; Georgina Pujol-Busquets; Elena García-Fernández; Laura Rico; Laia Shamirian-Pulido; Alicia Aguilar-Martínez; Francesc X. Medina; Lluís Serra-Majem; Anna Bach-Faig. Mediterranean Diet and Cardiodiabesity: A Systematic Review through Evidence-Based Answers to Key Clinical Questions. Nutrients 11, no. 3 (March 2019): 655.
3 Which Fish Is the Richest in Omega-3s? Seafood Nutrition Partnership. Accessed October 14, 2019.
4 Lattimer, James M., and Mark D. Haub. Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health. Nutrients 2, no. 12 (December 2010): 1266–89.
5 American Diabetes Association. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2019. Diabetes Care 42, Supplement 1 (January 2019): S46–S60.